Thanks Again!

National Volunteer Week is coming to an end but hopefully we’ve made good use of this opportunity to express our gratitude and appreciation to our volunteers.

This week the American Red Cross celebrated its hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the country. More than 90 percent of the work of the Red Cross is done by volunteers. They staff blood drives, respond to house fires in the middle of the night, deploy to national disasters, train their neighbors in lifesaving skills and connect military families in time of emergencies. Whether on the frontlines or working behind the scenes, our volunteers’ bright smiles and benevolent spirits turn compassion into action.

On Sunday we celebrated the work of our Franklin County volunteers at our annual Volunteer Appreciation event. Held this year at Big Walnut Park, participants enjoyed good food, fellowship and fun activities for the whole family. After all, we need to thank their families as well as the volunteers themselves – they’re the ones who “lend” us their loved ones to help with our mission.

We also produced a special volunteer appreciation video to express our thanks to those devoting their time to the Red Cross every day.

If you’d like to say thank you to the volunteers of the Red Cross, go to the Red Cross Facebook page and post a thank you message to our volunteers. We want them to know how much we appreciate their work to make our communities better and safer places to be. A simple thank you matters.

Of course, we are constantly recruiting new volunteers to aid us in the lifesaving work that we do. The Red Cross relies on the generosity of our volunteers to fulfill our mission. There are a variety of ways people can get involved and we are looking for diverse volunteers of all ages and skill levels. Go to http://www.redcross.org to learn more about volunteer opportunities and sign up to join us. Every day volunteers tell us their lives are changed in the process.

Red Cross FAQs Part 2

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In this post, we hope to answer more common questions about the American Red Cross.

Is the American Red Cross part of the U.S. government?

No. The American Red Cross functions independently of the government but works closely with government agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), during times of major crises.

The Red Cross is responsible for giving aid to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and to disaster victims at home and abroad. It does this through services that are consistent with its Congressional Charter and the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement allowing the Red Cross to stay neutral and impartial.

Why won’t the Red Cross accept small, individual donations or collections of items such as clothing, food or cleaning supplies-doesn’t every little bit help?

The Red Cross does not accept individual donations of material items (called “in-kind” donations) because receipt of such items can actually hamper relief efforts.

The financial cost of receiving, sorting, transporting goods and ensuring the quality and cleanliness of items donated by individual households is very high. It also does not allow for individuals and families to receive what they uniquely need in their own size and shape.

The traditional method of providing Red Cross assistance is with a voucher, redeemable at local stores and paid for with donation dollars. This voucher enables victims to purchase what they need in the correct sizes and in accordance with their own taste. Making even these small decisions helps individuals begin to take control of their lives and their recovery.

In addition, the voucher process helps channel money into the local economy and thus aids the community in recovery from disaster.

The Red Cross does accept large corporate donations of food, bottled water and other items needed by the disaster-affected communities.

How many Red Cross chapters are there?

There are nearly 600 chapters and blood services regions in the United States. In 187 countries, a Red Cross, Red Crescent or equivalent society works to alleviate human suffering.

The American Red Cross is part of the world’s largest volunteer network found in 187 countries.

How many people are employed at the Red Cross?

Between national headquarters, chapters and Biomedical Services, the Red Cross employs around 33,000 people. We rely on more than 500,000 volunteers.

For more frequently asked questions about the Red Cross, please visit last week’s blog entry.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Red Cross

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People have many quesitons about the Red Cross. In this post, and the next, we hope to cover some of them.

Common Questions often asked:

How can the Red Cross help me?

The Red Cross is committed to saving lives and easing suffering. This diverse organization helps you by providing relief to victims of disaster, both locally and globally. The Red Cross is responsible for half of the nation’s blood supply and blood products.

The Red Cross gives health and safety training to the public and provides emergency social services to U.S. military members and their families. In the wake of an earthquake, tornado, flood, fire, hurricane or other disaster, it provides relief services to communities across the country.

The Red Cross is America’s most trusted charity, and it needs the support of compassionate Americans to succeed.

Who founded the Red Cross?

The Red Cross has a long and unique history spanning back more than a century and a half.

The Red Cross idea was born in 1859, when Henry Dunant, a young Swiss man, came upon the scene of a bloody battle in Solferino, Italy, between the armies of imperial Austria and the Franco-Sardinian alliance. Some 40,000 men lay dead or dying on the battlefield and the wounded were lacking medical attention.

Dunant organized local people to bind the soldiers’ wounds and to feed and comfort them. On his return, he called for the creation of national relief societies to assist those wounded in war, and pointed the way to the future Geneva Conventions.

In October 1863, The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement was created in Geneva, Switzerland, to provide nonpartisan care to the wounded and sick in times of war. The Red Cross emblem was adopted at this first International Conference as a symbol of neutrality and was to be used by national relief societies.

In August 1864, the representatives of 12 governments signed the Geneva Convention Treaty. The extraordinary efforts of Henry Dunant led to the eventual establishment of the International Red Cross.

Today, the Red Cross Movement incorporates the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (the International Federation), as well as National Societies in 175 countries, including the American Red Cross of the United States.

What is the Mission of the American Red Cross?

The American Red Cross Prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and generosity of donors.

Stay tuned for our post next week for answers to more common questions.

Truly Meaningful Holiday Season

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Would you like to give a gift that is truly meaningful this holiday season?

Consider giving to the Red Cross.

People can do something that truly means something and provides help for the Red Cross. The Red Cross needs help in five different ways:

1. We recently opened a holiday giving catalog where you can purchase a symbolic gift www.redcross.org/gifts

This symbolic gift prorgam is unique to the holiday season. Through this catalog, you can purchase a variety of gifts in the name of people on your gift list.

Your purchase can support the Red Cross mission in many different ways, such as helping a disaster victim, providing comfort kits for injured members of the Armed Forces or helping supply measles vaccinations around the world.

The purchase of each gift item is a tax-deductible contribution that supports the mission of the Red Cross.

Those who participate will receive free gifts such as a Red Cross Water Bottle for a donation of $100 or more or a Family First Aid Kit for a donation of $200 or more.

Assitional ways you can help the Red Cross this holiday season include:

2.Make a financial donation to the Red Cross

3.Schedule an appointment to give blood.

4. Connect with soldiers in the Holiday Mail for Heroes program through by going to either Facebook.com/redcross or Twitter.com/redcross using the hashtag #holidaymail.

5. Give the gift of time by becoming a Red Cross volunteer.

We would like to give a special thanks to all our volunteers and supporters this holiday season!

Red Cross welcomes visitor from Kenya

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Did you know the Red Cross has something simillar to a foreign exchange program?

Recently, the Columbus Red Cross had a visitor from Kenya stop by to see how things work around here.

Esther, the Kenyan Red Crosser, is in a social work exchange program from the United Way. Normally, she is a volunteer and trainer in her home country.

When she stopped by Columbus, she was very impressed with the work we are doing.

During her visit, Esther stated:

“I would like to come back. I didn’t have enough time here, I’ve really enjoyed it”.

“Responses are quicker. In Kenya, the power can go off in the whole county for 2 days. Here you respond to that as a disaster. Back home, a power outage is not a disaster.

“It’s a very good thing that there is time to help with things like that here.”

Esther, we are glad you enjoyed your stay. Keep up your wonderful work in Kenya!

Red Cross volunteers and supporters in Columbus, thank you so much for all the wonderful work you do here!

Holiday Travel Safety

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Last week, we covered how to be safe while cooking this holiday season. Now that you have learned about cooking safety, here are a few tips about traveling as you go to visit family.

There are travel safety tips for cars, planes, and trains.

CARS:

1. Listen to a local weather forecast before you get on the road. Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain, snow or dense fog. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.

2. If winter weather is present, bring pets inside before you leave the house.

3. Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Fill your gas tank, check the air pressure in your tires and make sure you have windshield fluid.

4. Buckle up, slow down, don’t drink and drive, or text and drive.

5. Make frequent stops on long trips. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and rest.

6. If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

PLANES AND TRAINS

1. It’s flu season. If you’ve been sick or been in contact with someone who is sick, consider postponing your trip. You could be contagious for a week before symptoms appear.

2. Remember that everything you touch has to be touched by someone else – luggage handlers, etc. Handle your own belongings as much as possible. Wash your hands often with soap and water.

3. Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with you. You can use them to wash your hands or wipe down surfaces such as armrests.

4. Bring your own pillows and blankets – they can act as a shield against the seat itself.

5. Avoid touching your face or eyes. If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your sleeve.

Have happy and safe travel this holiday season!

Stay Safe during Holiday Cooking

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The holday season is the perfect time to do a lot of cooking for both parties with friends and dinners with family. Did you know, however, that the single greatest cause of house fires is cooking?

Do something to protect yourself this holiday season and educate yourself on the top ten ways to stay safe as you cook that big meal.

1. Don’t wear loose clothing or sleeves that dangle while cooking.

2. If you are frying, grilling or broiling food, never leave it unattended – stay in the kitchen.

3. If you’re simmering, baking, roasting or broiling food, check it regularly.

4. Use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on.

5. Keep kids and pets away from the cooking area.

6. Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.

7. Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.

8. Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.

9. Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.

10. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home and near sleeping areas. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.

Consider downloading our free First Aid App for quick, expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency.

Have a happy and safe holidays, everyone!